June 28, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Indians: Perez stands by words but focusing on baseball

CLEVELAND — Indians closer Chris Perez stands by the inflammatory comments he made concerning Tribe fans, but the right-hander said it is time to focus on more important issues.

“It is what it is,” said Perez, who criticized fans for their overall lack of support of the first-place Indians. “I got it off my chest, and now it’s time to play baseball. It’s in the past. I’ve said my comments. The fans have had a couple days to digest it, and now it’s time to play baseball.”

Perez was able to gauge fan reaction around Cleveland, attending the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on the team’s off-day Monday.

“It’s been overall positive,” Perez said. “The town, negative or positive, is talking Tribe, which is good at this time of year. I could really care less who’s taking snaps for the Browns at the quarterback spot right now. Their season is so far away.

“We’re in the moment right now. We’re playing the Detroit Tigers right now and people are talking Tribe. If that gets more fans out to boo me, great. At least they’re in the stands.”

The Indians rank last in the majors in attendance but drew three of their largest crowds since Opening Day during a weekend interleague series against the Marlins. It was after Saturday’s win over Miami that Perez unleashed his wrath on Indians fans. He followed it up with more inflammatory comments Sunday.

Perez, who has been with the Indians since 2009 after being acquired in a trade with the Cardinals, disputed the notion that his comments implied he wants to leave Cleveland.

“I don’t want out. I’m unhappy,” said Perez, who entered Tuesday with 13 straight saves since Opening Day. “That doesn’t mean I want out. You’re allowed to be unhappy in your work situation. I’m not going anywhere as long as I keep getting saves. The team’s not going to trade me as long as I’m getting saves. I know that.

“If I really wanted out, I would start tanking it on the field, be injured, be a bad teammate, not talk to (the media), tell the fans to go screw themselves, not sign autographs, all that stuff. I don’t want out. I want to win. My friends are here. I like it here. I’m comfortable here. I’m not out. I’m in. I’m here.”


Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.